I attended the Microsoft and Metalogix Roadshow last Thursday (1st October) to get a better understanding of what software vendors are doing to smooth the transition from this ‘informal’ cloud to a robust, highly governable business cloud.
What vendors and partners are increasingly understanding is that few businesses follow a ‘typical’ cloud journey. Indeed every firm has unique challenges due to the various legacy applications and working practices that shaped their IT and information sharing culture in the pre-cloud age. Despite this, the consulting community has spotted some patterns; many companies test the water first by migrating their email to Office 365. Most follow this up either by moving their desktop suites to the cloud or experimenting with the Azure platform. Many look into Delve or machine learning. But those firms that take the step to migrating their SharePoint workloads to Office 365 find that this is the point where they start to experience real business transformation. It’s the collaborative potential of the cloud that makes its use so compelling, and companies that embrace SharePoint online to its fullest extent can truly realise Microsoft’s vision of working “anywhere, anytime.”
Metalogix provided some insight into their own business as well. Traditionally they have sold products and services as best-of-breed solutions for specific challenges. They are moving to a more platform-based model, with broad functionality available as a single package. This recognises that IT organisations today have a unique range of obstacles in their move to the cloud, and many of these are very different from traditional migration headaches. One piece of wisdom from Metalogix that came across loud and clear was the fact that their clients consistently find that the amount of data they need to migrate is much smaller than they initially expect. Christmas dinner menus from 2006, ‘TEST’ files and other outdated documents all contribute to the pile of unnecessary data that can bloat a migration.
After speaking with some of the attendees, it became clear to me that eliminating obsolete files was just one of many tasks that organisations see the benefit of performing alongside migrating to Office 365. There is a general theme of business leaders viewing their move to the cloud as an opportunity to perform some ‘spring cleaning’ – not just in terms of their data but in a number of other ways as well. Internal communications, document management and governance teams that have struggled with antiquated or unenforceable corporate policies for years can see the potential of a fresh start on a new type of technology platform. These teams all hope that a combination of software and consulting services can ensure that this opportunity is maximised.
One attendee mentioned that they had the wish to convert legacy documents – formats such as .doc, .xls, .ppt - to the modern equivalents (.docx etc.) on the fly while migrating. While there are third party tools that can perform batch tasks like this, it’s currently very much a separate process from a migration. While we may not yet live in a technological utopia where a single piece of software can address every one of these desires, a move to the cloud is still a perfect opportunity to let go of old data, old practices and old tools that are no longer appropriate for the modern, hyper connected world that we now inhabit. By leveraging the expertise of cloud specialists and document auditors, organisations are likely to find that their technology dreams are more achievable than they ever believed.